On this episode of the “VinePair Podcast,” hosts Adam Teeter, Joanna Sciarrino, and Zach Geballe theorize about what the future of natural wine might look like. As a movement, natural wine looks similar to the rise of craft beer decades earlier. But will the ill-defined category meet the same fate as breweries across the country that have faced sellouts and acquisitions? Tune in to learn more.
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Adam Teeter: From VinePair’s New York City headquarters, I’m Adam Teeter.
Joanna Sciarrino: And I’m Joanna Sciarrino.
Zach Geballe: In Seattle, Washington, I’m Zach Geballe.
A: And this is the “VinePair Podcast.” Zach, how are you feeling, man?
Z: You know, slowly getting better. It’s a climb. It’s not quite at the summit yet.
A: Yes, it’s a climb. There’s a mountain, you see it, you dare. I always find the last few days of being sick, for me, are kind of the worst. They’re not the worst of the symptoms, but they’re the times where I’m really frustrated. I’m almost over the cold, but in the middle of the night, I’ll wake up to a crazy coughing fit. I just want to be done and you hate it so much.
J: Or your nose runs for two weeks after.
A: It’s so annoying.
Z: There’s something to the notion of being pretty sick where you can kind of be like, I just can’t do stuff so I’m OK with that. But it’s weird to be OK enough to have to do all the sh*t you have to do in daily life, but not be 100 percent for it. Doing it when you’re 100 percent is hard enough, but doing it when you’re at 85 or 90 percent is no fun. I don’t want this.
A: No fun. Have you been drinking anything? What have you been doing?
J: No, he’s been drinking.
Z: Oh yeah, I’ve been drinking.
A: What you got there?
Z: I’ve had a couple of things recently that have been enjoyable. Like you guys, I am a regular listener of all of our podcasts on the VinePair podcast network. But it’s often “Cocktail College” that gives me inspiration for things to drink, because it just makes me think about classic cocktails. I don’t necessarily go through them every week and make whatever Tim and his guest are discussing. Sometimes they do kind of give me inspiration. His recent episode on the Zombie has not inspired me to make any Zombies, because I’m not that crazy.
J: It’s pretty labor-intensive.
Z: I don’t have the time. And being sick, I’m not going to any tiki bars any time soon. But it did make me think about how I often neglect absinthe as an ingredient in cocktails. I don’t think about it as something unless I’m having a Sazerac. So I’ve been playing around with a couple of cocktails with absinthe, frankly seeing where it might fit into some cocktail recipes that I like or into some classic formulations that I like. I played around with adding a little bit of absinthe into what is essentially a Manhattan recipe, so sweet vermouth, and whiskey, usually bourbon if I’m using absinthe. I want something a little sweeter to contrast the sharpness and dryness of absinthe. So I’ve been playing around with that.
J: Are you doing substitutions, or are you adding?
Z: For that one, I added about a half-ounce of absinthe along with my half-ounce of sweet vermouth, and then 2 ounces of bourbon to just round it out and add a little different note. The downside to adding absinthe have been cocktails like that, otherwise stirred cocktails, is that it clouds. You have that kind of weird, muddy water-looking thing, which I personally don’t mind. I’m just making it for me, but I get why it’s maybe less of an ingredient that people want to use in cocktail bars because it doesn’t look super pretty. It doesn’t come through clean. The other place I’ve used it, and this is another thing that I really enjoy, is a little bit of it as a spritz. So with sparkling wine or sparkling wine and a little bit of soda water, if I want to stretch it a touch. There’s something about it that takes in a very different direction than Aperol or something does. But to come back to a conversation we had a couple of weeks ago about spring drinks, there’s something about the anise/fennel/herbaceous note of absinthe that really works this time of year in a spritz. We talked about the Aperol Spritz being a really summery drink, and I 100 percent agree. But an absinthe spritz feels more like spring.
J: How much are you using there, just out of curiosity?
Z: That’s about an ounce or an ounce and a half if I’m feeling frisky.
J: OK, interesting. That seems like a lot of absinthe.
Z: Well you know, sh*t gets wild in my house.
Z: Especially when I’m sick. Got to trip a little bit. How about you, Joanna? What you’ve been drinking?
J: I haven’t really gone out much recently. But I had two new-to-me drinks, one that I made and one that was made for me by the lovely Tim. One was a Black Manhattan. I’ve never had one of those before, and I’ve never really had an Averna before. I’ve never had a bottle of Averna at home before. So I got one and made a Black Manhattan with rye, Angostura bitters, and orange bitters, and an orange twist. That was pretty good. And then at our last drinks class, Tim made us a few cocktails with Irish whiskey. It was on St. Patrick’s Day.
A: I’m sure that got lit.
A: Oh, Tim. That sounds delicious.
J: It was great. I actually would make it again.
A: He told me he has some stuff still in the freezer here.
Z: We’ll excuse you, Joanna.
J: I’ll be right back. What about you, Adam?
A: I finally went to Double Chicken Please, and I had two really, really cool cocktails there. They’ve obviously gotten a good amount of press. But it’s weird, they feel like they haven’t gotten the same kind of level of press that other cocktail bars have who have opened recently. I do agree they’re probably one of the more, if not the most, inventive cocktail bars right now.
J: Explain their deal.
A: It’s two bars in one. In the front, everything’s on draft and it’s pretty classic cocktails. It’s their twists on classics, but everything pulls from a draft. It’s no reservation, very chill. Then there’s a really cool smoked-glass door, and behind that door, you make a reservation. You can go in and it’s the actual bar. They call it the Back Room. And in that room, all the cocktails they’re making are supposed to be thought of as food. So they all actually mimic the flavors of classic dishes. They have cocktails on the list like cold pizza that literally tastes like cold pizza. They have one that I had, which was cold sesame noodles, which was amazing. They have mango sticky rice. They have a rum raisin cinnamon bun. There are really cool drinks and all of them taste like food. While I was there, they were workshopping a cheeseburger cocktail.
A: They’re really funny, they play around with stuff as well. They were doing it with St Germain because the joke is that it has always been bartenders’ ketchup. So they’re playing with that to then create this flavor of a cheeseburger. It’s really cool. It’s probably the most giggle-inducing time you’ll have drinking just because this is so fun and unexpected and unique. That’s probably the most memorable drinking experience I’ve had in the last seven days. It’s a good one, right? I definitely encourage everyone to go,
Z: And go listen to the interview you did with one of the founders a couple of years ago. They launched in the early Covid days, which probably also explains why they didn’t get quite as much press. I feel like they launched before people were like, “F*ck it, we’re going to go out anyhow.” It was definitely in the thick of the early part of it.
A: Totally. I have a topic today to talk about. If you have looked at your notes wherever you get your podcasts, you’ve seen what this title is already. Just to preface, there will be a lot of me talking at the very beginning. Please bear with us, dear ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, dudes and duets. I want to lay out a theory, and my theory is how natural wine ends. I’m sure some of you are sitting here being like, “It never does.” And that’s cool. I respect that. I’m not saying that it’s ever going to go away. What I mean is, I’ve looked at the history of lots of other movements, and there’s so many similarities between movements that we’ve seen throughout the drinks space and natural wine. When we look at some of these movements, we can really create what I believe is going to be the path forward for natural wine. Now you’re going to have to accept some things with me along the way in order to buy into the theory. You might not. We might get to the end of this and Zach tells me that I’m a complete idiot. But then I want to have a discussion about this in general.
J: And then we can talk about our theories.
A: And your theories, right. Here’s the general theory. If you want to think about natural wine, the first thing you have to understand is that it’s a term that means nothing. So you have to accept that, right? You have to listen to this podcast right now and recognize that it actually means nothing.
J: There’s no formal definition.
A: Exactly. You can say that it means certain things to certain people. To some people, it means zero added sulfites. To some people, it means what’s happening in the vineyards with natural yeast fermentation. But you have to accept that it has no meaning. When you look for the most closely resembling movement in the drink space, that also has no meaning, it’s craft beer. If we can look at what happened with craft beer over the last 15 to 20 years, you can see what I think is the natural evolution of natural wine. So what happened? In craft beer, you had a bunch of people that were looking for something that felt different and their own, anti what they felt was the larger beer and established beer brands. They were outsiders. They wanted to give some sort of name to their movement. They decided to call it craft beer. They then also had lots of people enter the industry of craft beer, who had no formal training. You had lots of all who were entering the world of beer prior to that, who had gone to brewing school. Because you had to have a brewers education to get a job at Budweiser or MillerCoors and those kinds of places. You had to have formal training in brewing. But to become a craft beer, you could be a homebrewer who was a lawyer during the day and brewing at night, who then decided to make beer. In natural wine, it’s the same thing. You have people who, yes, are formally trained. But in a lot of places in natural wine, you have people who are former graphic designers, who are former wine writers, who are former somms and are now all making wine. They’re all self-taught. With this kind of movement, mistakes are allowed to happen. You don’t have to worry as much about the beer becoming perfect because it’s more about the movement of the category. It’s more about pushing up against the man — the man being the bigger place. You have that first happen in craft beer. Then you have a bunch of people — now this is where you’re going to have to agree with me here just for this theory — who gravitate towards one flavor profile in craft beer. And that is IPAs. So again, for my theory to make it to the end of this conversation, you have to stop believing that natural wine also means clean wine. I believe that it does. There’s lots of natural wines I love that are clean. Those are the wines I like that are natural. I will drink them all the time. I love the labels, all that stuff. But for this theory and where I think the movement of natural wine is going, and why it’s become so massive among uneducated wine drinkers and uneducated beer drinks, is the flavors. It’s the Brett, it’s the mousiness, it’s the funk. IPA was the same. It was a very aggressive flavor that people had never had before, and it was really interesting. Then what you have to have, which both of these movements have, is really amazing design and art. In the craft beer side, you have all of these really cool can art, stuff that looks different, that doesn’t look like it was created in the marketing department. You have the same thing happening in natural wine with really amazing, beautifully designed labels. People’s really cool, unique sh*t on the bottle. Wow, this is speaking to me, this feels more bespoke. OK, so you have these things. What happens in craft beer? We have the massive growth of craft beer. You have people who then become rabid devotees and have very loud fights. Not as much online. There is maybe Facebook at the early stages of craft beer, etc., but craft beer really has been around since the late ’90s. You start having fights come out online of people being like, “I’m only a craft beer drinker.” You also have to remember that through all of, and it’s important to point out since it’s the same as natural wine, only about 10 percent of the population has ever been true craft beer drinkers in America. It’s actually a minority of beer drinkers. Same with natural wine, right? It is a very strong, very vocal movement. It is a movement that I think is making lots of really positive changes in wine, but it still is a minority of people who are only natural wine drinkers. So we agree that these things will happen. Now it’s everywhere, everyone’s talking about it, everyone’s writing about it. All the really cool publications are saying that craft beer is the future of beer. Everyone who’s cool is drinking craft beer and you have craft beer bars opening all over the country. You have cool craft breweries opening in all these different places. That’s exactly what’s happening right now with natural wine. So what happens? A big conglomerate comes in and buys a brand. When that happens, everything goes to sh*t. That is what I believe is about to happen.
J: The selling out.
A: The sell-off will occur. Now again, this is where you have to agree with me that it’s a flavor profile and that it’s not about clean winemaking. Because I agree with every single person who wants to argue with me. True natural wine, or the way I define it, is low intervention, really clean, can’t scale. You can’t scale that kind of winemaking, but you can scale a f*cking flavor. You can infect everything with Brett. Because there’s no formal definition, you don’t get to decide what is considered natural wine by consumers. This is the same problem that craft beer had. There was never a formal definition. As they tried to define it, they started making so many different allowances to keep certain brands in that had grown at this point, but then had money to pour back into associations and support their festivals and things like that. They basically also became a laughingstock in terms of a term. You have this big conglomerate that buys, who was at that point it was a buy? It was AB inBev. They buy Goose Island and they buy Elysian. Who’s going to buy a big natural wine brand? Is it going to be one of these really big everywhere brands? Is it going to be that a big distributor comes in and buys Francois? I don’t know. But at the end of the day, money talks, and someone will get bought. There will be a brand that gets bought and that scales. Then what you will have is open warfare. You will have what you saw during those days of craft beer where it was like, “No, I hate Budweiser. I’m dumping it on the floor.” You have what Dave talks about in a lot of his articles with us, where people literally walked into Elysian and walked into Goose Island, would buy a beer, and dump it on the floor. They were like, you are now sellouts and you are not part of our movement. More of this will happen over the course of those years. And then ultimately, the term will lose meaning, because people will realize that it had no definition in the first place. You’ll have other things that will take its place. For example, in the world of craft beer, now you have “proudly independent” and other terms that are being used. You’ll have local farm breweries and all this kind of stuff that’s taken the place of craft. Because again, craft has no meaning. Actually, it’s a good thing. Now, people are more easily able to do that with the kind of brewery they are. I think you will then have this happen in the natural wine world. You’ll have people who say, “No, no, no, we are no SO2 winery. That’s what we’re known as.” Or, we’re a low- intervention winery. Or, we are a biodynamic wine. And you’ll go back to some of the old terms and the majority of people won’t care. Everyone will just go back to drinking wine until the next movement. That, I think, is going to be the arc of natural wine. I think we’re going to see this play out over the next five to six years. It’s a way to still happen. I continue to study this and look at what was happening in the world of natural wine in the conversation I’ve been having recently and the awareness now that the big brands have about natural. They can’t ignore it anymore, they know that it’s a movement. They’re scared that they’re losing millennial drinkers. They hear that the only thing that millennials are really interested in is natural wine. They’re paying attention to the publications. It’s going to happen. When that happens, we have the great shakeout. So that’s my theory.
J: I think it’s a good theory. What do you think, Zach?
Z: That’s all you got to say, Joanna?
J: I mean, I have my thoughts. I was going to ask, do the bigger companies actually feel threatened by natural wine enough to want to do this?
A: I don’t think it’s a threat of natural wine. I think it’s a threat of losing drinkers. That was the same thing that was happening in the beer world. These breweries shouldn’t have cared, these craft breweries were a flea on a dog. They were nothing. But they were scared enough about all the hype that they were hearing in the press that they felt like they had to do something. That’s why you had so many busts, too. Constellation goes and buys Ballast Point for a $1 billion because it’s so scared and then sells it for $50 million recently. That’s a massive flop. But they were so scared. From what I’m hearing, especially among large-scale domestic producers, there is a fear. They don’t know what else to do. If we want to go back a month ago to that episode where we talked about millennial wine drinkers, they don’t want to do the actual work. They don’t want to actually invest in talking to these generations and marketing to them. They don’t want to make their labels look less lame or their wine more approachable or better quality, making their luxury brands look like actual luxury brands. They don’t want to do that. When you’re a big company, it’s easier to go buy something. I think someone will do it and there’s probably five or six companies that can. The question is, who will take the risk?
J: Who will do it first?
A: In beer, it was really only AB inBev that was going to do it first. They have always had that reputation of being the risk-taker. There’s not one big company in wine, sadly, that’s known as a risk-taker. So I don’t know who will be that risk-taker, but it will be somebody.
Z: I have a couple of thoughts here. One of the interesting things about this comparison and trying to map the evolution of natural wine as a trend onto that previous craft beer trend, is that one of the challenges for craft beer, as you laid out, is that craft beer was really about who was making the beer. The notion that it tried to present was that it wasn’t being made by these big beer conglomerates, that it was also flavor-profile different, but in some ways, it was very diffuse. And yes, the IPA became the flagship style for craft beer, in part because it was so distinct from sort of adjunct lagers that dominated domestic beer production prior to that. But there no argument in craft beer circles that IPAs were the only valid expression of craft beer. Very few craft beer breweries were solely devoted to IPAs until relatively recently. In the earlier days of craft beer, you had five, six, seven, or eight different beers. Yes, your IPA was probably your best seller in most places. But you made a lighter beer, you made winter beer, and whatever.
J: But there was a clear proliferation of one style.
A: Even prior to that. You had the West Coast IPA for the early 2000s. In the last 10 years, you’ve had more IPAs New England. Ever since Dogfish Head figured out continual hopping with 90 Minutes, the IPA really has become all that. But I recognize what you’re saying in terms of diversity. I think there’s diversity in natural wine, too. I just do think there is this movement. Part of how natural wine is similar to what you were just saying is that it is a lot about the stories of the winemakers being regular, normal people. Like people who are farmers. And that’s the same thing you heard before: “He’s not a marketer, he’s just a brewer.” And I say “he” because it was always about men in the early craft beer days, white bearded men. That is also so familiar.
Z: That’s exactly what I was going to say. Natural wine, in some ways, is even less equipped to combat a large-scale brand either buying its way into the space or coming up with a product that competes. Natural wine has focused so much on, as you’ve mentioned, Adam, the flavor profile being an indicator of natural wine and even production methodology. I actually would disagree with the notion that low-intervention winemaking can’t scale up.
Z: I think it’s an unknown, no one has tried. If large wine Company X decides that its next growth opportunity is a million cases of “natural wine” that’s $20 a bottle, they can find that much organic vineyard material if they need to. They can convert some of their production over to organic. They can make wine that is “low intervention,” at least for what most people accept fits into the parameters. They can build a custom facility that’s dedicated to that, that they can keep away from commercial yeast. Again, no one has tried to do this at scale because the market hasn’t really been there. But if the market is going to be there or might be there, I don’t think there’s anything that prevents a company from doing that. It’s an investment. But so is any other large-scale venture, whatever style of wine you’re trying to make. Natural wine has no built-in defenses against this because the term is, as we’ve talked about, is undefined, ill-defined. And it has come to be associated with a flavor set that is pretty replicable at scale, certainly if you’re willing to disregard the tenets of the early days. Any movement, if it gathers any adherence, is going to move beyond the control of the original progenitors of it. They can’t wrangle it anymore, and that’s already where we are with natural wine. We’re long past that point. I don’t have a dog in this fight. I don’t really care, particularly personally. Like you, Adam and Joanna, there are wines that would fit under the natural heading as generally accepted that I like. There’s plenty that I’m not that interested in. But big brands can do organic-looking design. They can do funky if they want. They haven’t wanted to because, as you’ve said before, it’s an even smaller fraction of wine drinkers certainly than craft beer is for beer drinkers in this country at this point. But if it keeps growing and if it is the dominant or a dominant style among younger drinkers, then people will enter this category. I 100 percent agree with you that there’s going to be a big fight about it.
A: There’s going to be a huge fight.
Z: While you were gone and we had this conversation with Dave on the podcast about how craft beer got over its sell-out phase. The answer was basically that craft beer was like, “Sh*t, we need success stories.” Five or 10 years ago, selling out was seen as a failure, and now it’s seen as a victory. I wouldn’t be shocked if the same doesn’t hold true for “natural wine.” I want to ask you a question, Adam. And you too, Joanna. One of the reasons why this change emerged in craft beer is that the craft beer bar lost potency. So much of the cachet of going to a craft beer bar and a lot of places was really diminished. It was replaced, in part, by taprooms as more of a gathering spot for beer drinkers. I don’t know if that’s going to hold true for natural wine because you could put a craft brewery literally anywhere. It’s a little harder to do that with a winery, especially if you’re in a place that doesn’t grow grapes. And it’s hard to make the natural claim if you’re trucking your grapes in or you’re getting concentrate from across the country or around the world. So the natural wine bar might remain more vital in a way that the craft beer bar didn’t. What do you guys think? Are the natural wine bar days numbered in the same way that craft beer bars seem to be?
J: Well, I feel like right now they’re still pretty hot. The more that natural wine shows up on restaurant menus, people won’t have to go to natural wine bars to have the wine that they love so much.
A: There was two things that were the demise of the craft beer bar. One is the reason that Joanna is stating, which is that a lot of restaurants started realizing they needed to have one or two craft beers on the list. Or for bars in general, they needed to have a few craft beers. A lot of that was because Budweiser started going into all these dives with Goose Island and Elysian and all these other ones and they pushed their muscle. What happens if one of the big wine companies says, “Hey, we have two or three natural wine brands now. You can have this so people don’t have to go seek it out.” Second, I think that one of the big killers of most craft beer bars was the IPA. People were like, “The draft list is literally 20 different IPAs and maybe one pilsner, one lager, and a stout.” The people who were really passionate about craft beer at that point had evolved to think a lot about the other things that were craft that weren’t just IPA. If you could see that happening as well in natural wine, all the wines are funky, there’s going to be people that are like, “Well, I like natural wine, but I’m looking for something else.” What you’ll also see is what we’ve seen in craft beer, which is that as all this shakes out, the future of natural wine becomes about being clean. You’re starting to see it now in some places, even in New York. The main places that were all about the real funk, because it was early on, will go and shift. They will still believe in biodynamic, organic, but to clean. It will shift to pure fruit expression wines in the same way you saw a lot of these very classic original craft beer bars back away very slowly from 20 taps of IPAs and start adding more pilsners, more lagers, and things like that because their palates evolved. That’s 100 percent going to happen here as well. It just feels like it’s going to be the natural evolution. But before all that happens, we’re going to have to have a purchase. I was thinking this when you were talking, Zach. The one thing that could scale even faster, which we haven’t talked about, but has been lumped into natural wine and is a wine that could be made at scale, is orange wine. That could very easily become a brand that’s bought and scaled very fast. It can be made like how people make rosé. There’s a weird way that that happened, that orange wine became natural wine. It’s never been natural wine. It’s always been really cool, good wine that’s been around forever. As that’s becoming more and more in line with what people think of as natural wine, I think that could be something that gets bought. Do we see someone who’s doing a really cool orange wine in California with cool labels all of a sudden get bought? Yeah, we can do this. We can scale this really easily. I think that would be really interesting.
J: I want to go back to your clean wine thing that you just mentioned, because this is what I was thinking about in terms of, “How does natural wine end?” when you kind of put this to us the other day. What I think happens is that, maybe it’s not a buyout, but there are more and more good “natural wines” that come onto the market. The people who were gravitating towards that fox den funkiness have a good wine. And they’re like, “Oh, this is actually what natural wine is supposed to taste like.” Maybe we shed those funkier wines and that flavor a little bit. Then natural wine takes on this other thing, where it’s good. It’s just good wine. I mention this because, Adam, you just got back from California, and you were talking to winemakers there who are noticing this trend and they make very traditional wines. But they’re also experimenting with more natural wines. They’re calling it natural because they see people gravitating towards the style in the market, and they want to appeal to a younger generation of drinkers. I think we’re going to see more of that.
A: I think you’re right.
J: I think that people will experience those wines, make that choice, and then these Brettier wines will slip away.
A: What will happen is, in the same way we’ve seen it the last decade with craft beer, the militancy will become very intense. We’re not there yet, right? I’m talking about a war that’s yet to come. There will be a lot of militancy and then people will realize that the fight is just not worth it. Just like everyone fought over craft beer, they then said, “I just like good beer, man.” Sometimes I do want a Modelo and I don’t want to apologize for it.
J: It’s the identity thing that we talked about with the craft beer stuff, too. People will stop being the keepers of natural wine. It’s like “We are the outsiders,” which is kind of how this movement came about, just like craft beer. That will just evolve. People will stop identifying themselves with the natural wine that they drink.
Z: There is one way that you might reach a somewhat negotiated truce or something. What wine doesn’t have, to the extent that beer had, is obvious behemoth villains. There are obviously very large companies, but there isn’t a Budweiser equivalent in wine, the thing that holds 30 percent market share. There’s no Miller Lite or Coors Light or whatever. What wine has always had, to its benefit and curse, is a lot of producers at all different levels of scale from all over the world. Craft beer was a little bit of an easier dichotomy when it was first launched as a concept because you had your massive brands and massive brewery growing concerns. You had some good-sized local or regional breweries that still persist in some cases or have gone out of business in others. And then you had people in their garages. Wine has many more steps along the way, from super-large behemoth brands that make millions of cases a year, to some of the really small producers who make 500 cases a year. What you will also see is people who have been militant about natural wine that will say, “Well, the thing I really love is small-production wine.” Some of that might be snobbish exclusivity. Some of it might just be feeling more connected to a producer who does everything themselves or does almost everything themselves or with a very small group that doesn’t own a vineyard or owns a very small amount of land. The small scale of it is the appeal. That allows for people who have decided that the very specific flavor set that we’ve described — the funky, foxy, weird sh*t that people might be getting tired of or might only want from time to time. It’s in the same way that beer drinkers might still want a triple IPA from time to time, it’s just not the only thing they want to drink. People might say, “Hey, you don’t have a place for that, but what I really want to do is explore all these other small producers in the U.S. and abroad.” They make interesting wines from all different varieties, different styles. But what appeals to me is its size.
A: I think that’s true. I do think they’ll easily find a villain.
J: It’s like natural wine and non-natural wine.
A: I think that for sure. I also think it’s natural wine and grocery store wine.
J: That also.
A: Mass-produced. There’s a lot of bigger-producing companies in the wine world, whereas AB InBev, by the time craft beer was at its height, had bought everybody else. They were really controlling a lot of it. That’s where everyone was turning their fur. But there were the other big brands that turned around and did it right. You saw Kirin came in and bought some stuff. Kirin’s a huge company, but it is a Japanese company; we weren’t paying attention to it.
J: But they waited, also.
A: They waited. Then Heineken came in and bought Lagunitas. All these different companies came in and bought these other brands as well. It was just that AB InBev was here and owned the one beer brand that everyone considered to be the big boy, which is Bud Light and Budweiser. I definitely don’t think we have one wine brand that everyone can say is the big wine brand.
J: But maybe it’s just the first.
A: There’s a few, right? But there’s not one, in the same way. But it’s going to happen.
J: Mark his words, everyone.
A: Yeah, it’s going to happen. I’m waiting to hear. Maybe it’s not natural wine first. Maybe it’s a low-intervention vermouth or something like that that someone buys first. But it’s going to happen. We’re going to have this huge fight and people are going to take sides and then we realize: Why are we fighting in the beginning? We all love wine. And it’s kind of going to move on. But it’s coming. Thank you for indulging me today and letting me talk through my theory. It’s been one that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’d love to hear what others who listen to podcast think as well. It always is really interesting. Especially if you listen to the theory and don’t agree with me, or if you’re someone who, like, is 100 percent a proponent of this movement and wants to fight, let’s go. I really like having conversations about this. Natural wine is the most interesting thing happening as a movement in wine right now. It’s the most impactful movement that’s happening. Whether you like it or not, there’s a lot that is very good about what’s happening in natural wine. And there’s a lot that’s really annoying about what’s happening in natural wine. But it is a movement that people need to pay attention to. I think it’s a movement that we need to look to the past to, to see where it’s going to be headed in the future. Cool. Joanna, Zach, I’ll talk to you on Friday.
J: See you then.
Z: Sounds great.
Thanks so much for listening to the “VinePair Podcast.” If you love this show as much as we love making it, please leave us a rating or review on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever it is you get your podcasts. It really helps everyone else discover the show.
Now for the credits. VinePair is produced and recorded in New York City and Seattle, Washington, by myself and Zach Geballe, who does all the editing and loves to get the credit. Also, I would love to give a special shout-out to my VinePair co-founder, Josh Malin, for helping make all of this possible, and also to Keith Beavers, VinePair’s tastings director, who is additionally a producer on the show. I also want to, of course, thank every other member of the VinePair team, who are instrumental in all of the ideas that go into making the show every week. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you again.
Ed. note: This episode has been edited for length and clarity.